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“Next message. Playing now.”

“Jake...” A deep male voice. “Jake, why do I have to hire a private investigator just to get your home number? And why do you keep changing it every month while continuing to ignore my calls to your cell phone? We’ve been trying to reach out to you for years. Years, Jake. Please let us—”

“Next.” I clenched my jaw.

“Final new message. Playing now.”

“Hello, this is Charlotte.” It was a throaty, female voice. “I’m not sure if I have the right number or not, but I’m simply calling to see if this is Blanket Manufacturing? I’d like someone to call me back so I can place an order, if so.”

I sighed and made a mental note to change my number once again at the end of the month.

“No more new messages,” the system said proudly. “Would you like to hear them again?”


“Okay. I will play them again. Message one.”

“Good evening, Mr. Weston. This is Alyssa Hart in Elite’s Human Resources Department.”

I groaned and walked into my library, shutting the door. I picked up the books that fell while Gillian was here and stuffed her tattered lace panties into my pocket.

I pushed the desk away from the wall and unlocked a hidden panel, waiting for the walls to slide open.

As always, they took several minutes to slide apart—a safety precaution to convince a stranger that this was simply a wall and nothing more. When they finally made a beeping sound and gave way, I unlocked another panel that revealed all the things I hardly ever wanted to face.

On the top shelf stood every model plane I’d ever built as a child. From the simple five piece wooden types to the intricate, three-hundred-piece metal constructions. Dated postcards from countless countries sat untouched in a plethora of bound notebooks, and trinkets from nearly every airport gift-shop sat in the order that they’d been received.

I picked up the navy blue photo album from the bottom shelf and flipped through the first few pages. I wanted to believe that enough time had passed that I would feel nothing, but the pain and betrayal still cut deep, no matter how happy the memories. There I was at four years old, playing in an open field with a collection of paper planes. Me and my older brother at fifteen, playfully arguing about whose turn it was to drive our father’s Cadillac. My mother smiling against the sunset for no reason, and my father—

I shut the book.

I didn’t want to consider remembering what he was doing. I was sure it wasn’t what I thought it was anyway. I tossed the album onto the floor of the hidden case and locked it up as a familiar, haunting voice played in my head.

“He lied to you, Jake...He lied to all of us...”

I needed to focus my attention on something else.

I returned to the kitchen and flipped through the mail. All of this weeks’ newspapers were neatly stacked and waiting to be read. There was The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, USA Today, and the most ruinous one of them all—The New York Times.

All of them were running variations of the same story across their front pages, harping praise and acclaim toward Elite Airways. The accompanying pictures were all white and sky blue, the words all written in a bloated black with phrases like, “Elite Ascends to New Altitudes!” “CEO of Elite Airways Flies High, Soars!” and “Elite Brings Back the Glory Days of Flying!”

There was no criticism, no journalistic analysis, not the slightest hint of critique. It was all an infallible farce, and after reading through all their bullshit, I knew there was no way I was going to get through my first full month of flying for them without fucking losing it.


A week later, I sat across from the Chief Hiring Director at Emirates Air in Dubai, watching him tap his pen in annoying fashion as he looked over my paperwork.

“Very impressive, Mr. Weston...” He flipped a page. “Even more impressive...” He’d repeated those same five words over the past hour and I was considering getting up and leaving the room.

“Well, Mr. Weston—er Jake.” He finally looked up. “Can I call you Jake?”

“Mr. Weston will suffice.”

“Fair enough.” He set the papers down. “I’m honestly in awe of your previous service, sir, but I have a few reservations about hiring you here.”

“I’m listening.”

“Well, for one, we’d have to pay you on a senior captain’s salary which is far less than what you were earning at Signature.”

“How much is far less?”

“It would be half,” he said, leaning back in his chair. “And Emirates is the highest luxury line in all of commercial travel right now. Well, we were until Elite, but you honestly don’t strike me as the ‘do anything and everything to make the passengers happy’ type.”

“That’s because I’m a pilot, not a goddamn customer service agent.”

“And lastly.” He slid the papers back to me. “As much as I despise Elite for being what they are, I respect them for what they’re doing.”

“What exactly are they doing?”

“Getting people excited about flying again,” he said, turning on the massive TV screen on the other side of the room. “The aviation industry has never been better.” He pointed to the TV. “Have you seen their newest commercial? It’s very vintage and very original.”

I looked at the TV screen, watching it unfold. In grey scale, several flight attendants dressed in navy blue dresses and blazers walked arm and arm with a captain in the center. They all laughed and smiled as Frank Sinatra’s “Come Fly with Me,” played in the background.